Got that? The problem isn’t that Florida lets people carry concealed weapons, or that it allows them to kill on questionable pretexts. Instead, it just let the wrong guy have a gun.
But we need to ask whether any private citizen should be carrying a concealed weapon, and whether “Stand Your Ground” measures make people trigger-happy. And most of all, we need to think about the most common victims of our lax gun laws: African Americans.
Nationwide, blacks are far more likely to die from firearms than are white people. Not surprisingly, then, African Americans also favor gun control more than whites do. In a 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center, asking people whether it was more important to “protect gun rights” or “control gun ownership,” 53 percent of whites chose gun rights and 39 percent selected gun control.
Among African Americans, by contrast, just 27 percent deemed gun ownership rights more important; meanwhile, a whopping 64 percent called gun control the more important goal.
These numbers don’t sit well with the gun lobby, which has often suggested that strict gun control actually discriminates against racial minorities. Its evidence? Some of our earliest restrictions on guns barred African Americans from owning them.
That’s true. And it’s also irrelevant. Especially in the years right after the Civil War, racist whites strove to keep guns out of black hands. But it hardly follows that today’s gun-control laws are racist, or that African Americans would be safer if they armed themselves.
Ditto the irrelevancy of the often-cited facts that the militant Black Panthers protested California’s gun-control laws, and that even the famed pacifist Martin Luther King, Jr. applied for a gun license in the late 1950s after his house was firebombed. Not surprisingly, the white-supremacist government in his native Alabama rejected the request.